Nova Scotians are encouraged to receive their full primary series of COVID-19 vaccine, and to receive their fall/winter dose to ensure maximum protection. You can book online or call 1-833-797-7772.
A primary series is an initial vaccination designed to give you protection against a disease. This is now a one dose series for people aged 5 and over, and two or three doses for people aged 6 months to 4 years, depending on the vaccine. Those who are immunocompromised require one extra dose to complete their primary series.
The fall/winter dose helps strengthen your level of protection against the current strains. It also boosts your protection, as immunity decreases over time. Public Health encourages all eligible Nova Scotians to get their fall/winter dose.
Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine dose at this time?
- Primary series: Anyone 6 months of age and older who has not completed their primary series.
- Fall/winter dose: Anyone 6 months of age and older who has completed their primary series and received their last dose at least 6 months ago.
People aged 6 months and older who receive the updated mRNA XBB.1.5 vaccine for their primary series or fall/winter dose are not currently recommended to receive another dose 6 months later.
- Available Vaccines and Eligibility
- Recommended intervals between doses
- Vaccine Eligibility After COVID-19 Recovery
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines
- How to access your COVID-19 vaccine proof of vaccination
- Allergies Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Immunocompromised status
- Medical Contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination
- What to expect at your vaccine appointment
Available Vaccines and Eligibility
Eligibility by Age for mRNA Vaccines
Anyone aged 6 months and older can receive:
- Primary series – Moderna XBB.1.5 or Pfizer XBB.1.5
- Fall/winter dose – Moderna XBB.1.5 or Pfizer XBB.1.5
Alternative Vaccines for People 18+
People aged 18 years and older are eligible to receive a Novavax COVID-19 vaccine when they are unable or prefer not to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, and supply is available. The Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is an original vaccine, meaning it has not yet been updated this season.
- Novavax requires a two dose primary series, with 8 weeks (56 days) between doses.
- Visit this website for a list of pharmacies that can provide this vaccine.
Recommended intervals between doses
Ages 6 Months – 4 Years
Moderna– 2 dose primary series*
- Between doses 1 and 2 - 8 weeks (56 days)
Pfizer – 3 dose primary series*
- Between doses 1 and 2 – 8 weeks (56 days)
- Between doses 2 and 3 – 8 weeks (56 days)
Between primary or previous booster and fall/winter dose
- 6 months (168 days)
*Children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised will need an additional dose to complete their primary series.
- For Moderna, the time between the first and second dose is 4 weeks (28 days) and the time between the second and third dose is 8 weeks (56 days).
- For Pfizer, the time between the first and second dose, second and third dose is 4 weeks (28 days), and the time between the third and fourth doses is 8 weeks (56 days).
- Because Moderna requires fewer doses, it is recommended for children who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
*Children aged 6 months to 4 years who received Pfizer for any dose in their primary series need to receive 3 total doses (or 4 if immunocompromised), even if completing their primary series with a different vaccine.
Ages 5 years and Up
Between primary series* or previous booster and fall/winter dose
- 6 months (168 days)
*Only one dose of XBB 1.5 is required for a primary series. If you started your primary series with a bivalent vaccine, you should get one dose of XBB 1.5 to complete the series, 8 weeks (56 days) after receiving your first dose.
*Nova Scotians who are moderately to severely immunocompromised will need a second dose of vaccine to complete their primary series. The time between the first dose and second dose is 8 weeks (56 days).
Vaccine Eligibility After COVID-19 Recovery
You may have some short-term post-infection immunity, however your immunity decreases as time goes on. Vaccination after infection (also known as hybrid immunity) helps improve the immune response and provides better and longer-lasting protection than infection or vaccination alone.
- If you had COVID-19 and require your primary series, you should wait at least 8 weeks (56 days) to get the vaccine.
- If you had COVID-19 and have completed your primary series, you should wait 6 months (168 days) to get your next dose.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines
It is safe for people ages 6 months and over to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as another vaccine, or at any time before or after other vaccines. Receiving your COVID-19 and influenza vaccine at the same time is safe and convenient. If your provider is offering both vaccines, book them both in the same appointment. Those age 65 and over are recommended to receive the free high-dose influenza vaccine.
How to access your COVID-19 vaccine proof of vaccination
If you have not received a digital record of your COVID-19 vaccine(s), you can access your COVID-19 proof of vaccination by visiting this website. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is also available on VaxRecordNS.
If you are unable to access your record online, you can call your local Public Health office to request that your proof of vaccination be mailed to you.
A confirmed allergy to the COVID-19 vaccines is rare. If your health care provider has questions regarding allergies and COVID-19 vaccines s/he can contact an allergist.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) strongly recommends that people who are pregnant stay up-to-date on their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Getting vaccinated at any point during your pregnancy helps protect you and your baby.
It is safe for you and your baby to be vaccinated while you are breastfeeding.
If you're immunosuppressed from disease or treatment, you may have a reduced immune response to any COVID-19 vaccine.
- Visit COVID-19 vaccine information for people who are immunocompromised for more information.
Medical Contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination
Medical contraindications against COVID-19 vaccines are limited in number, and include:
- a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) after previous administration of a COVID-19 vaccine using a similar platform (mRNA or viral vector);
- an allergy to any component of the specific COVID-19 vaccine or its container [polyethylene glycol (PEG) for Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines];
- a history of major venous and/or arterial thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine;
- a history of capillary leak syndrome (CLS) following vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
As a precaution, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that people who experienced myocarditis and/or pericarditis after a first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) should wait to get their next dose of mRNA vaccine until more information is available.
If you have a history of myocarditis or pericarditis and are still being followed by a doctor for related heart issues, please follow up with your healthcare provider before receiving the vaccine.
Nova Scotians who are concerned about their personal medical history and the available mRNA vaccines should speak with their healthcare provider.
What to expect at your vaccine appointment
- Wear a short-sleeve shirt or top with sleeves that are easy to roll up.
- To prevent feeling faint while being vaccinated, have something to eat before coming to the clinic. It is also important to drink water and stay hydrated.
- Bring a mask to wear while you’re in the building.
- Bring your health card and vaccine record, if you have them.
- All clinics are wheelchair accessible
- Please do not come to the clinic if you are not feeling well. You will not be allowed in and will need to reschedule your appointment.
- Stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine. You may be asked to wait for 30 minutes if there is concern about a possible vaccine allergy.
- Tell a health care provider at the clinic if you feel unwell while waiting. Be sure to leave your mask on and stay at least two metres away from anyone who is not part of your household.
- Use the alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands before leaving the clinic.
Side effects are common and can show the vaccine is working to produce protection in your body.
Side effects may make you feel unwell for 1 to 3 days. The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are:
- soreness / redness / swelling where you received the needle
- muscle or joint pain
- chills or fever
- swelling / tenderness around the armpit area (with the Moderna vaccine)
It can help to place a cool, damp cloth or wrapped ice pack where the vaccine was given. If you need it, pain or fever medication (such as acetaminophen/Tylenol or ibuprofen) may help with pain or fever.
If you have any concerns about the symptoms you develop after getting the vaccine, contact your health care provider for advice.
Serious side effects after getting the vaccine are rare. However, if you develop any serious symptoms that could be an allergic reaction call 911 right away.
Symptoms of a possible allergic reaction:
- swelling on the face, tongue or throat,
- or difficulty breathing.
COVID-19 Vaccines - Information Sheet and After Care Information